There is an invisible economy in communities where millions of dollars in goods and services are exchanged through generosity and mutual investment. Society needs to recognize and match the effort families are making through social capital.
The monthly journals families submit to FII cover a wide range of data points, including social capital exchanges like watching one another’s children, cooking for each other, etc. While these exchanges are not monetized, they have real economic value. We estimate that value by not only asking FII members to catalog the social capital they have given and received over the course of the month, but what the dollar value of those exchanges would be had they been monetized.
- Families engage in informal exchanges within their communities, and often give help more than they receive it. On average families report social capital summing to an estimated $4,000 worth of activity and support over two years, raising average monthly incomes by about 7%.
- Families receive twice as much help and support from their communities than from government subsidies. Households often report recieving more than twice as much help from their community, in the form of social capital, than from subsidies.
- Household social capital generally increases over time. On average the frequency of social capital exchanges nearly doubles over two years. This may be driven by increased connection with others, or by increased activity by the family, or may be a more accurate reflection of community exchanges that were already occuring.
- Low-income families are effective at placing others in jobs. About half of families responding to an employment survey reported finding their jobs through friends or family.
- Households with high levels of social capital are also showing strong progress on their goals. Families with more social capital tend to set more goals, complete more of their goals, and do so faster compared to other households.